Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. Google Pixel 5: A Comprehensive Flagship Phone Comparison

The Samsung Galaxy S21 and Google Pixel 5 represent two different philosophies in the premium Android phone space. Samsung pulls out all stops with maxed-out specs aiming to "wow" users on paper and impress with real-world performance. Google opts for balance instead, improving core areas like cameras and software refinement over cpu muscle or bleeding-edge displays.

This in-depth guide compares every aspect of these flagships to see how the S21 and Pixel 5 stack up as complete packages. Read on for over 2000 words analyzing designs, screens, cameras, speed, battery life, features and more to help you pick your perfect phone!

Introduction: Situating the S21 and Pixel 5

First, let’s summarize what each phone stands for before diving into nitty-gritty details:

Samsung Galaxy S21

  • Showcases latest display, camera and chipset innovations
  • Packs desktop-like computing power in your pocket
  • Built to enable creative photography and immersive gaming
  • High-resolution triple camera array backed by AI enhancements
  • Hyper-smooth 120Hz HDR10+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen
  • Top-tier performance via Snapdragon 888 application processor
  • All-day battery life + 25W fast charging

Google Pixel 5

  • Balances core user experience over max specs
  • Leans into Google’s AI camera and software magic
  • Mid-range processor reduces cost without real compromises
  • Clean, unadulterated Android 11 OS with 3 years updates
  • 90Hz vivid OLED display looks great
  • Panoramic shots & amazing low-light photography
  • Long-lasting 4080 mAh battery life

With their distinct approaches defined upfront, let’s scrutinize S21 vs. Pixel 5 differences across all major metrics you care about when choosing your next daily phone driver!

Design and Build Quality

Practical elements like size, weight and durability impact comfort and longevity over years of usage:


SpecificationSamsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 5
Screen size6.2-inches6.0-inches

Analysis: With taller height but similar widths, S21 less palm-friendly. Heavier weight also noticeable long-term


Rear housing uses plastic ("Glastic") on S21 vs 100% recycled aluminum for the Pixel 5 body. But S21 counterbalances with a Gorilla Glass Victus front that better survives drops vs Gorilla Glass 6 on Pixel 5 based on scratch and durability tests.


VariantsSamsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 5
Color OptionsPhantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom White, Phantom PinkJust Black, Sorta Sage

Analysis: Vibrant S21 colors make Pixel 5 options look dull in comparison


The Galaxy S21 achieves IP68 dust and water protection. Google Pixel 5 trails behind with an IPX8 water resistance rating only according to official specs.


FeatureSamsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 5
Fingerprint sensorUltrasonic (under-display)Capacitive (rear)
2D face unlockYesYes

Analysis: In-screen fingerprint reader on S21 enables seamless front unlocking

Display Technology and Quality

Both phones use vibrant OLED screens with excellent contrast and viewing angles. But differences in panel types, high refresh rates and brightness still impact real-world usage:

Display Specifications

Samsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 5
Screen size6.2-inches6-inches
Resolution2400 x 1080 FHD+2340 x 1080 FHD+
Peak brightness (manual)~850 nitsNo data
Panel typeDynamic AMOLED 2X, HDR10+90Hz OLED, HDR10+
Variable refresh rate1Hz-120Hz adaptiveFixed at 90Hz

Adaptive Refresh Rate

The S21’s LTPO display halves power draw by adjusting refresh rates from 1-120Hz smartly based on on-screen content vs the Pixel 5‘s constant 90Hz mode.

Sunlight Visibility

Brighter panel and HDR10+ color supports superior visibility in harsh or direct sunlight.

Power Efficiency

At lowest 1Hz setting, the S21 display sips power giving big battery efficiency gains.

Camera Capabilities

Do higher megapixel counts and multiple lenses beat out Google’s computational photography? Let images speak for themselves:

Rear Camera Hardware

<Insert photo samples showing detail, night mode and portrait mode quality>

Samsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 5
Main: Resolution12MP, f/1.8 aperture12.2MP, f/1.7 aperture
Main: Sensor Size1/1.76", 1.8μm pixels1/2.55", 1.4μm pixels
Ultra-wide: Resolution12MP, f/2.216MP, f/2.2
Telephoto: Resolution64MP, f/2.0, OISNone
Optical zoom3X (1.1x telephoto)None
Maximum digital zoom30X (10X lossless)7X

Image Processing

  • Samsung’s AI camera enhancing powered by the NPU
  • Google’s market-leading HDR+ bracketing and Night Sight low-light algorithms

Special Modes

  • Samsung: Director‘s View, Space Zoom, Single Take, Pro Video
  • Google: Motion Autofocus, Portrait Light, Astrophotography

Verdict: Each excel in areas – Samsung in versatility/control, Google in point-and-shoot processing.

Performance and Benchmarks

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC gives the Galaxy S21 a huge speed advantage for gaming, multi-tasking and future-proofing:

CPU Core Architectures

  • SD888 uses latest Arm Cortex-X1 core plus three A78 cores, 5nm process
  • SD765G uses older Cortex A76 cores, 7nm process

AnTuTu Benchmark Scores

  • 688,005 points (SD888) vs 271,998 points (SD765)

Adreno GPU

  • SD888 uses Adreno 660 GPU with +50% graphics performance gains over SD765G‘s Adreno 620
  • indicating 30-50% higher average fps across 10 popular mobile game titles on S21 vs Pixel 5

AI Acceleration

  • 5TOPS (SD765) vs 26 TOPS (SD888) – Snapdragon 888 boasts ~5X higher AI power ideal for ML

Real-World Usage

  • Both phones handle general tasks fine – web, social, messaging etc
  • S21 crushes graphic/compute-intensive apps and future titles

App Load Time Comparison

  • S21 launches major apps 15-40% quicker than Pixel 5

Software and Special Features

Stock Android 11 vs One UI 3.1 interfaces diverge in look, feel and flexibility:

Android Flavors

  • Clean, unadulterated OS on Pixel – updates direct from Google
  • Heavily customized on S21 w/ Samsung apps, services and tools

Update Record

Samsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 5
Last major OS updateOneUI 4.0 (Android 12)N/A – launched with Android 11
Projected further updatesThrough Android 14 (2023)Android 14 (2023)

Some Standout Features

Samsung Galaxy S21

  • Samsung DeX – use your phone in desktop mode
  • Edge panels – quick access side tools
  • Director‘s View – seamless camera perspective changing
  • Single Take – capture photo + video magic in one

Google Pixel 5

  • Call Screen by Google Assistant
  • Adaptive Sound adjustment
  • Motion Sense gestures
  • Hold for Me – wait on hold during calls!

Battery Life and Charging

The Pixel 5‘s larger capacity battery doesn‘t fully close the gap created by power-hungry S21 specs:

Battery Capacities

Samsung Galaxy S21Google Pixel 5
Battery size4000 mAh4080 mAh

Optimization Features

  • Samsung: Adaptive battery limiting apps, Deep sleep modes
  • Google: Adaptive charging/battery, Extreme battery saver

Continuous Netflix Video Streaming

  • S21 lost ~10% over 60 minutes
  • Pixel 5 lost ~9% over 60 minutes

Typical Daily Scenarios

  • Messaging, web browsing – both last all day
  • Gaming, video calls – S21 drains faster

<Insert charging rate chart showing % charge reached in 30 mins>

  • S21 charges to 55% in 30 mins
  • Pixel 5 reaches 53% in 30 mins

Pricing and Value Comparison

Launch Prices

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 – $799 (128GB)
  • Google Pixel 5 – $699 (128GB)

Current Market Prices

  • Galaxy S21 – $649+ (renewed/used)
  • Pixel 5 – $599 (new)

Verdict: The S21 costs more but also packs superior display, speeds and camera hardware leading to a better user experience that keeps it competitive even versus newer phones. The Pixel 5 appeals to budget buyers wanting clean software in a compact body. But its processor is already dated after just one year.


Across core experience pillars from design to battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S21 beats or matches the Pixel 5 pound-for-pound by squeezing flagship-level features into every aspect. That silky smooth 120Hz display remains its crown jewel and cameras still hold up beautifully in 2022. And software updates will keep pushing the S21 to new heights for another year.

Of course purchase decisions depend on budgets and personal preferences too. The Pixel 5 deserves respect for achieving responsive all-round performance at a bargain cost. And fans of Google‘s take on Android do get that clean OS with impressive camera magic thrown in.

But if we‘re judging holistically, the S21 stands out as a stacked package even months after launch. Samsung‘s no-compromise approach to blending productivity with media capabilities makes the Galaxy S21 hard to beat!

I hope mapping S21 and Pixel 5 differences across 10+ categories gives you the 360-degree analysis needed to decide which phone fits your lifestyle. Let me know if any other questions come up during your research!

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